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Third Cuban Athlete Defects

August 25, 2003|From Associated Press

A third Cuban athlete has defected at the World Gymnastics Championships, joining two male teammates who left the Cuban delegation earlier this month.

Janerky De La Pena, 20, left her team's hotel in Anaheim late Saturday night, attorney Luis Carrillo said Sunday.

De La Pena was picked up by the uncle of teammate Michel Brito Ferrer, who defected Aug. 17.

Charles Leon Tamayo defected last Monday. All three athletes are staying at the Los Angeles home of Ferrer's uncle, Ramon Ferrer.

The three are seeking asylum and plan to present themselves to U.S. immigration authorities later this week, Carrillo said.

At a news conference Sunday night, the three gymnasts said they decided individually to defect.

They said there was no advanced planning on the island and they received no help from any U.S.-based groups or other teammates and coaches.

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